After a great week of snooker in surely what will be seen as the best tournament of the season so far we now reach the semi-final stages. This sees Shaun Murphy take on the holder Neil Robertson this afternoon whilst World Number 1 and the only player left in this without a World Championship to his name Mark Selby, takes on the Highland Terrier Graeme Dott.
By this weeks standards yesterday was a fairly pedestrian day it has to be said. There were two one-sided matches on the table with Dotty being served his match up with a side-salad of carelessness from his hapless opponent Judd. The young man who would be king later said it was the worst he has felt in a match for the best part of two seasons and it does beggar belief how badly he played in such an ideal surrounding to showcase his talent.
There are those who will point to a certain lack of dedication in young Judders, the playboi image that he seems intent on cultivating will be pointed at as being pursued to the detriment of his game. I’m not sure that’s the case and he always seems very dedicated to the sport to me and it’s a sign that he’s doing something right when people are discussing him so much. For now I think you just have to put it down to a very bad day at the office, albeit so bad that you have just been caught red-buttocked doing a photocopy of your arse by the boss who’s looking at saving money on staff costs.
Another player who will be waking up this morning wondering if he’s actually played his quarter final yet is Mark Selby. The Jester only really had to turn up last night to beat MJW who seems to be stuck in a rut at the moment. The man who made floating around the snooker table an art form was stuck in first gear and although the scoreline might have been closer he never looked like winning really. It may be more than just an off-day for Williams but I can’t believe that we’ve seen the last of the Floatmeister General, he’s still only young and I’m sure has more left in the tank. He’s low on confidence and once he gets that back I reckon we’ll see him back to something like his best. I certainly hope so.
He said afterwards “It was the worst I’ve ever played as a professional, I missed so many easy balls it was frightening. Selby played rubbish but he beat me 6-1, it was embarrassing. I felt like snapping my cue or throwing it into the crowd.”
He recently joked that he’d look for help from Steve Davis to fix his game or failing that call it a day on the baize, but he went on in his own unique way that he “wouldn’t stoop so low as to get the Nugget involved and I’m not going to retire. When I do, you (the media) will be the last people I’ll tell.”
Hopefully he’ll give me the exclusive.
But it’s clear that if things are to improve for MJW and to a lesser extent Judd they need to beat their inner demons, the little voice of doubt that creeps into all players heads from time to time. Judd’s will be telling him ‘you’re not as good as you used to be and you’re lucky to be where you are’ while MJ’s will be saying ‘you’re finished, pack it in now before it’s too late and let’s go to Nandos’. Those damned pesky snooker demons.
Talking of all things demonic. there have been strange things happening inside the BBC ‘bubble in the sky’ this week. All manner of havoc is breaking loose in the V-Neck jumper stakes, the ‘will they or won’t they?’ be wearing the regulation BBC kit question is now becoming as unpredictable as Judd’s form. The undoubted King of the V-Neck Rishi Persad even shunned ‘the look’ the other day and teased viewers by plonking the usually cardiganed-up Ken Doherty in one of them, a nice Irish green little number at that. Steve and JP continue to mostly hold the fort, with Steve arguably the most consistent V-Neck wearer.
But this isn’t the only other-worldly thing happening within the confines of ‘the bubble’ as the photograph to the right hand side shows. I must stress that the image is unverified, it might be one of those elaborate fakes like those ones with fairies at the bottom of the garden or those Loch Ness monster ones that always turn out to be something perfectly normal like a load of floating tyres. However, on this evidence we must be mindful that there may well be a demon getting to work on poor old JP too, a demon of such evil that it’s reflection is clearly manifesting itself behind everyone’s second favourite scouser. I don’t know what it’s saying to him but I don’t reckon he’ll be messing with the winning V-Neck formula again this week. Only a brave or extremely foolish man would do such a thing when dark forces are clearly at work.
Anyway, all we can do is hope this hideous big nosed phantom is banished from the bubble as we move on to look at today’s matches. Selby was the main pick in the tournament preview (3 points at 7/1) so from a betting point of view it’s fingers crossed for him to land the UK and Masters double, even though my snooker fan head would rather see Murphy or Robbo win it now, it would also be nice for Dotty of course as he can then add a Masters crown to his World Championship and put himself in his rightful place in the pecking order for a future job at the BBC.
Neil Robertson v Shaun Murphy
Head to Head (excluding Premier League): 7-4. Last Meeting: 2012 International Championship Semi-Final, Robbo won 9-5.
Strap yourselves in for what will surely be yet another cracker of a match between two players showing some great form this week. Shaun has been guilty in the past of running out of steam a little at the business end of things but he’s clearly loving being back in the BBC events following his run to the final of the UK before Xmas and for me he seems focused on the job in full and very much a title contender. Robbo has done it the hard way this week with his two deciding frame victories over Ding and Mark Allen and if he is to win today I think he’ll have to do just that all over again. He’s played solidly and scrapped when he’s had to and remains one of the best players under pressure that you will see, but I have detected him not being quite his usual self on his long game this week and today might be the day that this finds him out. I can’t see this being less than 6-4 either way so the recommended bet below should be backed.
Prediction: Murphy to win 6-5
Recommended Bet: 3 points on over 9 frames being played in the match at 11/10 with Paddy Power.
Graeme Dott v Mark Selby
Head to Head 4-7. Last Main Ranking Event Meeting: 2012 German Masters Round 2, Selby won 5-3.
Dotty has only beaten Selby once in their last seven meetings and this was in a PTC event in 2011. The pair have had some battles in the past including two at the Crucible which they share one apiece. As indicated above they both had a relatively easy time of it yesterday and that means we can expect them to come here raring to go. For me, Selby is in the better shape of the two but Dott is an expert at spoiling the party just when you least expect him to, he’s been in the doldrums this season but is finding his form now and that famous battling spirit can never be written off, but I just can’t see anything other than a Selby win here, I’m afraid I just feel he’s better in all departments of the game at the current time, I think he’ll make the final tomorrow, possibly to face the man he beat to win the UK just a few weeks ago.
Prediction: Selby to win 6-3
Another reminder as if you need it that the blog partners Apollobet have put an offer on for match bet punters this week that must have gone down a storm. If a match goes to a deciding frame and your single bet on the winner of the match ducks they will refund your stake in full, something to bear in mind if you are backing Robbo or Murphy this afternoon perhaps.
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THANKS AGAIN TO MONIQUE LIMBOS FOR THE MAIN PHOTO OF DOTTY.